Looking to give the gift of experience but can’t decide which membership is the right fit for your kids? Here’s a complete list with some advice on a mom who has done them all.
SeaWorld: I admit that I am biased about SeaWorld as someone who worked there throughout college. However, my kids (ages 4 and 6) and my nieces (teenagers) remain big fans of SeaWorld. Here’s why SeaWorld works for a family with kids of all ages — you have rides of little ones and older children, you have educational shows and aquariums and there are interactive experiences. A SeaWorld membership remains affordable compared to most other theme parks too — a Fun Card (which is good through the end of 2023 with blockout dates) is $109.99 while annual passes range from $150 to $270. Annual passes include parking, guest passes and other benefits. For more information, go to seaworld.com/san-diego.
Sesame Place: Sesame Place is a sister park of SeaWorld, which is good news for families! You can add a SeaWorld membership to your Sesame Place membership for just $87. Sesame Place has a mix of attractions with Sesame Street-themed rides and water activities for young kids, while the older kids will enjoy the thriller slides over the summer. Sesame Place also has good food, which is a rarity for theme parks! Membership prices range from $117 to $270, which include guest passes, parking, discounts and monthly freebies (such as a towel or keychain). For more information, go to sesameplace.com.
Legoland: Legoland California remains a favorite in my family as I have young children. I find that older children, such as my teenage nieces, have outgrown the park but they enjoy the water park over the summer. With that said, I highly recommend Legoland if you have children under 10 years of age. It has the perfect size roller coasters for children who are new to thrilling rides. Annual membership prices range from $179.99 to $299.99. For more information, go to legoland.com.
Balboa Park Explorer: This annual membership is a steal for the entire family. For just $229, a family of six can enjoy all the museums at Balboa Park for a year. I find this is a good deal because my kids can spend every day at the Fleet Science Center alone! Children will also get a good dose of learning from the San Diego History Center, San Diego Museum of Us and the Museum of Art. For more information, go to explorer.balboapark.org.
San Diego Zoo and Safari Park: The world famous San Diego Zoo and its sister park, Safari Park, continue to be visit-worthy destinations. For my family, I found my kids were most interested in these parks as young children. Now that they are 4 and 6, they are interested in parks with rides and interactive play areas. Still, if you’ve never had this membership, I recommend it as there is a lot to see. The membership prices range from $67 for a child to as high as $10,000. For more information, go to sandiegozoowildlifealliance.org.
San Diego Discovery Children’s Museum: I recommend this membership to anyone who lives in North County with young children. Prior to my kids going to school, we would visit the museum a few times a week to play and learn. The museum is also mindful of sensory needs, has special events such as Farm Animal Friday, and has all-around great employees that engage the children. With that said, I’d only recommend this membership to families with elementary-aged children. A membership is also super affordable, and ranges from $85 to $195 for a family. For more information, go to sdcdm.org.
The New Children’s Museum: For those in San Diego, here’s the children’s museum membership for you. This museum is filled with exhibits and plenty of fun to entertain your elementary-aged children. In fact, you can probably spend a whole day here! Just be sure to go to the downtown museum after rush hour and during the day to get a good parking spot. Membership prices range from $110 to $500. For more information, go to thinkplaycreate.org.
San Diego Botanic Gardens: This Encinitas-based garden is a great place to explore outside, catch some rays and learn about a diverse range of plants. The garden is also home to an amazing treehouse playground, obstacle course, train display and ponds for the kids to explore. My young kids remain big fans of this garden. A membership ranges from $105 to $165 for a family. For more information, go to sdbg.org.
What’s another membership worth considering for your family? Add it to the comments.
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